Potpourri of Popery, St. Colette Edition

Today's the feast of St. Colette, reformer of the Poor Clares and foundress for the Colettines. Just thought I'd note as well since it's leap year that there is a saint for February 29, believe it or not --and a nice Lenten one at that. St. Oswald had the habit during Lent of washing the feet of 12 beggars per day. One February 29, he died after blessing and kissing the feet of the 12th beggar of the day.


At last week's audience, the Pope concluded his presentation on Augustine by focusing on his conversion. Once again in speaking of his mentor, one gets the sense the Pope's actually talking about himself:
by renouncing a life of only meditation, Augustine learned, not without difficulty, to put his knowledge at the disposal of others. He learned to communicate his faith to the ordinary people, and to live for them in what became his home town. He carried out tirelessly a burdensome and generous activity that he describes in one of his beautiful sermons: "To preach continuously, discuss, reiterate, edify, be at the disposal of everyone -- it is an enormous responsibility, a great weight, an immense effort" (Sermon 339, 4). But he took this weight upon himself, knowing that this way he could be closer to Christ. His true second conversion was indeed to understand that one reaches others through simplicity and humility.
Yesterday's Audience introduced us to Leo the Great. He reminds us that Leo confronted Attila (successfully) and the Vandals (less so) unarmed, but especially highlights Leo's defense of the primacy of Peter as a service to the entire Church rather than an imposition on it:
Leo the Great, constantly aware of his believers and of the people of Rome, but also of the communion between the various Churches and their needs, was a supporter and an untiring promoter of the Roman primacy, offering himself as the authentic heir of Peter the Apostle: the numerous bishops attending the Council of Chalcedon -- mostly oriental -- were fully aware of this.
it is evident that the Pope felt the urgent responsibility of Peter’s Successor, whose role is unique in the Church, because "only to one Apostle was entrusted what was communicated to all the apostles,” as Leo affirms in one of his sermons on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (83,2).

The Pontiff managed to exercise such responsibilities, in the West like in the East, by intervening in various circumstances with prudence, determination and lucidity through his texts and his bound manuscripts. In so doing he demonstrated the importance of the Roman primacy then, as much as today, in order to effectively serve the communion that is a feature of the one and only Church of Christ.

Last Sunday's Angelus message is a reflection on the man born blind and baptism:
With a little bit of earth and saliva he makes some mud and spreads it on the eyes of the blind man. This gesture alludes to the creation of man, which the Bible recounts with the symbol of earth that is formed and animated by the breath of God (cf. Genesis 2:7). "Adam," in fact, means "soil," and the human body is indeed composed of elements of the earth. Healing the man, Jesus brings about a new creation.
The Pope uses the Pharisees' reaction as an occasion to reflect on pride and ideology:
To the blind man whom he healed Jesus reveals that he has come into the world for judgment, to separate the blind who can be healed from those who do not allow themselves to be healed because they presume that they are healthy. The tendency in man to construct an ideological system of security is strong: Even religion itself can become an element in this system, as can atheism, or secularism; but in constructing this system, one becomes blind to his own egoism.
He also took the occasion to ask for prayers for the Archbishop of Mosul, who was kidnapped last week. His companions have already been killed.

  • There's a new US Ambassador to the Holy See: Mary Ann Glendon. Here's what B16 said to her on receiving her credentials. Like John Paul the Great before him, it's clear the Pope is counting on the U.S. to be faithful to its founding principles:
    From the dawn of the Republic, America has been, as you noted, a nation which values the role of religious belief in ensuring a vibrant and ethically sound democratic order. Your nation's example of uniting people of good will, regardless of race, nationality or creed, in a shared vision and a disciplined pursuit of the common good has encouraged many younger nations in their efforts to create a harmonious, free and just social order. Today this task of reconciling unity and diversity, of forging a common vision and summoning the moral energy to accomplish it, has become an urgent priority for the whole human family...
Has there been a more explicit rejection of "tolerance" as a basis of polity?
The experience of the past century, with its heavy toll of war and violence, culminating in the planned extermination of whole peoples, has made it clear that the future of humanity cannot depend on mere political compromise. Rather, it must be the fruit of a deeper consensus based on the acknowledgment of universal truths grounded in reasoned reflection on the postulates of our common humanity.
He seems to envision an American political vocation as it were:
I am confident that your country, established on the self-evident truth that the Creator has endowed each human being with certain inalienable rights, will continue to find in the principles of the common moral law, enshrined in its founding documents, a sure guide for exercising its leadership within the international community.
  • On European University Day, the Pope prayed the rosary with and then delivered this address to a group of students in Paul VI Hall and in 9 European & American cities via satellite.
    Unfortunately, so-called western civilization has partly betrayed its Gospel inspiration.


What is needed, then, is an honest and sincere reflection, an examination of conscience. It is necessary to discern between what serves to build the "civilization of love" according to the design that God revealed in Jesus Christ, and what runs counter to it.
To us specifically:
Dear University students of Washington DC, I send warm greetings to you! With the help of God, I will be in your city in April. With your assistance, may America remain faithful to its Christian roots and to its high ideals of freedom in truth and justice!

  • Here at last in English is the Pope's address to the Jesuits. I choose to read it as a timely reminder for us all:
    The Church thus urgently needs people with a deep and sound faith, a well-grounded culture and genuine human and social sensitivity, of Religious and priests who dedicate their lives to being on these very frontiers to bear witness and to help people understand that on the contrary there is profound harmony between faith and reason, between the Gospel spirit, the thirst for justice and initiatives for peace. Only in this way will it be possible to make the Lord's true Face known to the many for whom he is still concealed or unrecognizable. The Society of Jesus should therefore give preferential attention to this. Faithful to its best tradition, it must persevere in taking great pains to form its members in knowledge and virtue and not to be content with mediocrity....
    What follows gets pretty tough, though!
  • The Salesians are having their General Chapter, too, and the Pope invites them to study their founder and the original charism.
  • Vatican: Catholic-Muslim dialogue continues. It's a bit discouraging that this question even had to be asked, but the Vatican clarified the only proper formula for Baptism (hint: it's not feminist). Fr. Finigan provides: Valid Baptism for Dummies. Pius XII saw the "miracle of the sun" 4 times according to diaries. Also, the Pope's reviving beautiful vestments. (No more of this.) I like Fr. Z's additional take --that the Pope's not merely going to the back of the Vatican closets, he's commissioning new pieces:
    While I love the idea of simply drawing forth the splendors that have been so long locked up...I also am pleased to see the Holy See becoming again a patron of fine works at this level of skill.
  • Australia: A very expensive World Youth Day.
  • China: The Pope chose Card. Zen to write this year's Stations of the Cross, with profound implications. Not so fast on those reports of relaxation of the "one-child" rule. Propaganda. Asia News thinks China's statements show intra-party division.
  • Cuba: inviting German monks to found a monastery in Habana, on condition that one be a cheese maker. (They can't make cheese in the worker's paradise?)
  • Great Britain: a wee bit more about the Archbishop of Canterbury & Shar'i'a.
  • Iraq: the latest on the kidnapped Archbishop of Mosul.
  • Italy: Exhuming Padre Pio.
  • Pakistan: Archbishop of Lahore asks for help ending a new wave of anti-Christian violence.
  • Russia: #2 in charge of Moscow Patriarchate's external affairs advises: don't pray with other Christians.
  • Thailand: Italian missionaries knighted.
  • Turkey: new freedom for non-Muslim religious and humanitarian groups.
  • U.S.: Number of Catholics falls --although the story's not quite what was reported generally. (we're up world-wide, though.) Also, how're we doing on vocations? Unsurprisingly, under the JP the G pontificate, there's been a vocations surge --but only certain American dioceses are part of it. Also, commentary on Obama's speech to Planned Parenthood Action Group. The Byzantines fast better than we do. And here's what Ambassador Glendon said to the Pope.
And finally: Zadok has odd theologian trivia. I was sure the answer to #1 was going to be Karol Wojtyla, but alas, no. The rest of the answers are here. Also, every year during Passover/Easter season, the MSM treat us to some new "story" about the Bible. This year: The Ten Commandments were the product of hallucinogens. I suppose we should take it as an homage, but it gets a little tedious to be thus attacked on our highest holy days.